READ: Ecclesiastes 4:13-16
- Once again, Solomon returns to the ubiquitous, “Vanity” and “chasing after wind.” And the sad thing is, he’s correct. He ends this paragraph by simply naming the reality that in the end, not many remember those who’ve gone before. Rulers come and go, generations pass, and most of the names are only remembered because they are written down somewhere. New generations have no idea who the previous “power brokers” were.
- Those over 60 in the United States know the names of John Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev. People in their 30’s might recognize the names Mubarak, Gaddafi, or Kohl. But most don’t have enough interest in politics and world relationships to pay attention. But then, who remembers Bob Cousy or Stan Musial, Bart Starr or Bobby Orr? It doesn’t matter if you choose politics, sports, or entertainment. We tend to forget those who’ve gone before us.
- So, Solomon says, there’s no reason to get to concerned over fame or position, people won’t remember you in the future anyway. And it sounds so empty, so useless. Of course, Solomon never suggests that the right exercise of power is fruitless. He only says that finding one’s meaning in that is useless. There is no inherent value in trying to make a name for yourself. In a matter of a few years (or generations, at most), you’ll be forgotten.
- How does Solomon’s repeated “vanity” affect you?
- What lasting impressions are you hoping to make?
- How do you balance the reality of Solomon’s words with the need to make a difference while you can?
PRAY: Commit to making a difference in the world around you. Pray that you are able to see past the need for fame to the desire for lasting influence. Pray that the church does have legitimate influence in the world.